Clockwork Sessions is a Glasgow-based music production company providing high-end orchestral recording for film, TV, and games composers with their specialist studio orchestra, the Scottish Session Orchestra.
Some of Clockwork’s recent work has included film scores, commercials, sampling libraries, and a beautiful jazz album. They’ve worked with Netflix on Outlaw King, Craig Armstrong, Famous Grouse, 8Dio, and recorded Scottish Jazz Singer of the Year, Seonaid Aitken’s new album, What is this thing called Love? featured on BBC Radio 3.
Chatting with Adam
We caught up with Adam Robinson, who manages Clockwork Sessions along with his colleague and producer, Kobus Frick, to hear more about how the company are working to offer world-class orchestral sessions for film, TV and games composers around the world.
"With film production booming in Scotland - world-class classical, jazz, and traditional musicians, state-of-the-art facilities such as the New Auditorium GRCH, and Grammy Award winning recording engineers - the time was right to combine these resources to make Scotland an attractive destination for high-end commercial audio recording."
Having both worked as violinists in many different orchestras, tours and recording sessions, Adam tells us how his work at Clockwork now involves conducting the sessions, as well as score preparation and arranging, with Kobus producing the sessions and overseeing the technical operations.
"We are also lucky to have Grammy Award-winning David Donaldson as our main recording engineer for our Scottish Session Orchestra – a group of hand-picked musicians, including principals of orchestras such as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Scottish Ensemble.”
“As well as custom sessions and the ability to work remotely with composers around the globe, we also work closely with the Musicians’ Union to offer shared sessions to spread the cost of production. This allows composers to be able to buy smaller parts of a large session, making recording in the UK more affordable.”
Starting the company
“Kobus had been building session work with the fabulous players in Glasgow over the years, and we decided it was the right time to expand operations. This meant establishing a production company and orchestra, with all the technical gear and personnel required to be able to offer recording of the highest level both sonically and musically.
“We have always found studios magical places and love the challenge of bringing a composer’s score to life. Hearing music we produced on titles that are heard by millions of people worldwide is very rewarding, and it’s great to be forging new relationships with composers around the world.
“As our production costs are less than London and LA, we can offer our services to an international market and generate work for musicians, producers and engineers in Scotland. Sound tracking comes under the UK Film and TV tax relief, so we can also offer great value for our international clients who qualify. Our aim is to build awareness so that a whole film production package, including soundtrack recording, can now be offered in Scotland.”
“The recording sessions range from small ensembles, such as string quartets through to large orchestra with strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion sections. Once we have the correct instrumentation and duration of the material, we then set about arranging the sessions.”
“This includes contracting the musicians, engineers and the recording venues as well as working closely with the client to make sure the arranging and score preparation is organised. We work extremely hard at refining every detail before the sessions begin, so we maximise the time available and make sure nothing can go wrong—allowing the clients as much artistic freedom as they wish.”
Adam told us about what makes Clockwork Sessions such a fantastic company to work with.
“The standard of the players, production team and recording venues, as well as the all- inclusive service and competitive rates makes recording with Clockwork Sessions a very attractive company to work with.”
“We are a small company, so every project is very personal. We enjoy getting to know the composers and directors and strive to do anything to help make the recording sessions the fantastic experience they should be.”
Greg Lawson, one of the violinists who featured as soloist on the soundtrack for Outlaw King shared his thoughts on working with Clockwork Sessions. He says the company “draws upon a wealth of talent from all aspects of Scotland’s musical landscape.
“It’s the attitude, too, that’s different here… That community feeling means that people are willing to go the extra mile to make something that we can all be proud of.”
Working on Outlaw King
Clockwork Sessions was asked to record Tony Doogan’s orchestral parts for the Outlaw King film score last summer.
“Outlaw King was the biggest production we have worked on so far, and it was very exciting to see our work being released on a platform like Netflix, with millions of people hearing our recording.
“We had two days of sessions with the director, David Mackenzie, in the control room working closely with Tony and Kobus to shape the nuances required. I worked with Tony transcribing previously recorded material, as well as arranging, and coordinating other arrangers’ music.
“Tony was keen to combine traditional elements into the orchestral parts and to get a really close, intimate sound rather than the more traditional romantic Hollywood style.”
Behind the scenes
We asked Adam about the behind-the-scenes of working for a company like Clockwork Sessions.
“Kobus and I straddle a lot of different roles to make sure we have everything covered, from editing, contracting, producing, library service, client relations, dealing with various parties and studios, conducting, arranging, and score preparation.”
“The engineering side of production is looked after by David, who arranges his engineers and is responsible for the technical set ups and sound engineers on the day to maintain the highest sonic standards.
“Working at this level is highly pressured and we are responsible for making sure that all the musicians are being given the optimal playing conditions, as well looking after the technical production and post production needs. The calibre of musician, instruments and the sight-reading capabilities in the UK is quite incredible and allows us to record at a rate of around 10 minutes for every 1 minute of written material.”
“We have a few things in the pipeline, including a project with a company from the U.S., some commercial work, and our own sample library release with Edinburgh-based audio company, Krotos Audio. There will also be an album released from Gary Lloyd, with narration from the famous comic author, Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta).”
“We have a few film scores out this year—one of which is an Australian production out in November, with music from an interesting composer called Brendan Woithe, who also recorded a film called Adnan with us, that is due for release soon.”